Jan Lambrecht, «The Right Things You Want to Do. A Note on Galatians 5,17d», Vol. 79 (1998) 515-524
We can assume that the Spirit-filled Christians in Galatia want to do the right things. To be sure, they are in need of admonition and exhortation. In a realistic way Paul reminds them of their somewhat fragile condition. He points to the eschatological tension between the "already" and the "not yet", between the indicative and the imperative. They are still in the body, yet they live in this world. Some of these Gentile Christians are attracted to the "works of the law". But, as Paul has been arguing at great length in this letter, that is not a solution. On the contrary, the Spirit alone constitutes the really "empowering presence". Therefore, "if we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit" (v. 25). It would seem that Gal 5,17, properly understood, fits very well into this context of admonition.
would seem that the i3na mh\ e0a\n + subjunctive clause 21 directly depends on v. 17c, not on the whole of v. 17abc. It is not immediately clear whether v. 17d still possesses a purpose force ("in order that") or, more probably, simply points to the result ("so that") 22. Verse 18 consists of a conditional period: "but if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law". This last expression, u(po\ no/mon, probably indicates the law obligations which, according to Paul, no one is able to carry out and which therefore lead to transgressions and sin, condemnation and curse (cf., e.g., 3,10 and Rom 3,19-20 and 23) 23.
A. Vanhoye stresses that a4 e0a\n qe/lhte means "whatever you would" 24. He explains the content of such a "wanting" as containing both good and evil: "il nostro sogno sarebbe di poter soddisfare tutti i nostri impulsi successivi, il desiderio di vivere comodamente e il desiderio di essere generosi, il desiderio dei piaceri di ogni genere, sessuali, sensuali, e il desiderio della gioia spirituale e dellamore puro" 25. One is inclined, however, to ask whether the claim regarding the a1n (or e0a/n) with the subjunctive can be pressed here. True, by itself such a construction points to the future 26 and, therefore, the matter remains indeterminate and universal. Does it necessarily mean "whatever" or "whatsoever"? To be sure, the relative pronoun a# is without antecedent. Moreover, the resumptive demonstrative pronoun tau=ta does not exclude a possible universal sense in the previous clause. However, in addition to Rom 7,15c Paul employs the construction with an indeterminate relative pronoun and subjunctive, followed by a resumptive pronoun, in two more passages, namely in Gal 6,7: o4 e0a\n spei/rh|, tou=to kai\ qeri/sei, and in 1 Cor 16,3: ou4j e0a\n dokima/shte, tou/touj pe/myw. "Whatever" and "whoever" may be a correct rendering, yet in both cases the indeterminate and general character of the relative pronoun should not be unduly emphasized. The translation "what" (or "that which") in Gal 6,7 27 and "(those) who" in